Global Solutions

Irish Design 2015’s Global Irish Design Challenge is now open for submissions. This is an opportunity for design professionals, students and graduates – both on the island of Ireland as well as those abroad with strong links to Ireland – to be featured in a high-profile exhibition at the new national design centre in Dublin next year, with the potential to tour internationally. Entrants are invited to submit a product, project or concept that has the potential to revolutionise the way we live. The aim is to showcase innovative Irish design solutions to current and future global challenges while activating and connecting a global network of Irish design talent.

The Global Irish Design Challenge is free to enter and is open to designers of every discipline including architects, furniture designers, animators, service designers, design engineers, fashion and textile designers, product designers, graphic and web designers etc. The Challenge accepts new, existing and speculative work, so entrants are welcome to submit a project that they are currently working on, a great idea that they’ve had hiding in their desk for years, or something that has already changed the world and made them famous.

The distinguished jury panel of internationally influential design experts includes the acclaimed Jay Osgerby, who was awarded an OBE in 2013 for his services to the design industry, and veteran Japanese designer Hideichi Misono, former chief designer for Toyota. Further judges will be announced in the coming weeks as part of our ongoing media campaign.

Entry is free and the closing date is 30 November 2015.

Full information can be found here.

The recently launched Northern Ireland Creative Employment Programme has been designed to cultivate talent and provide fair access for young people to job opportunities in the creative and cultural industries.

NI CEP will provide wage incentives to businesses who decide to recruit young people as interns and apprentices in areas such as design, technical theatre, music business, cultural heritage, community arts, business support and live events.

Wage incentives of up to £5,000 will be available for businesses to recruit apprentices (aged 16-24) for a minimum of 2 years, while up to £1,500 will be paid to businesses to help support interns (aged 18-24) for a minimum of 6 months.

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The first round of the Northern Ireland Creative Employment Programme closed on 26 June 2015 and we have been delighted by the initial response and applications. This new funding provides an exciting opportunity for both business growth and the development of new talent within the creative sectors. Over the next three years NI CEP will seek to establish 100 paid entry level internships and apprenticeships and we look forward to as many creative businesses as possible being involved.

The second round closes for applications 4th September.

All details about the programme can be found on the NI CEP Website.

Applications are made online here.

If you have any questions or would like to discuss the programme in more detail, please contact us on:

028 9032 5072

[email protected]

We were delighted to welcome Jamie Neely from Monotype to speak as part of our Anatomy of Design series on ‘Font Discovery’ in which he explores the tools and techniques for finding the right typeface for the right job.

Co-founder and creative director at Belfast design studio Front, Jamie helped develop the Typecast web design – A free prototyping tool which has been tried by over 1 million people. In his role as Director of Product Design at Monotype, he now spends his days creating products that help Typography become accessible and fun to beginners, professionals, brands and agencies.

You can find out more at and

Filmed in the Ulster Hall Belfast by @djlowry on 26th March 2015

In March we welcomed Sarah Drummond from Snook to speak as part of our Anatomy of Design series on the subject of ‘Opening Design for Social Innovation’

Sarah is the co-founder and Managing Director at Snook, a service design and innovation agency in Scotland. She focuses on making social change happen by re-thinking public services from a human perspective. With an unwavering belief in people power and their ability to solve problems in collaboration with government she is known for her openness and dedication to using design to solve complex problems.

Since Snook formed in 2009 they have been leading the provision of service design application to projects in Scotland at a National level. Snook’s vision is to strive for big or small change everyday in their practice by winning hearts, changing mindsets and creating opportunities for the public to do things differently. In this talk Sarah describes Snook’s development and the fascinating projects they are delivering through this vision.

You can follow Snook’s work on Twitter (@wearesnook), on Facebook, or on their website

Filmed in the Ulster Hall Belfast by @djlowry on 19th March 2015

In February we welcomed Tandem to speak as part of our Anatomy of Design series on the subject of ‘Provocation by Design – Creating interpretive visitor experiences which captivate, thrill and inspire’.

Tandem’s Lead Consultant/Creative Director, Andrew Todd, spoke about some of the underlying principles that help shape their work and how they create experiences that relate to the individual with compelling, creative solutions and strategies.

This is a fantastic opportunity to discover how Tandem have developed heritage and cultural interpretive experiences – including temporary and permanent exhibitions – for castles and ships, libraries and historic buildings, driving routes and walking trails.

You can follow Tandem’s work on Twitter and Instagram (@tandemstudio), on Facebook ( or on their website

Filmed in the MAC Belfast by @djlowry on 26th February 2015

At the end of last year NIDA received funding from the Creative Industries Innovation Fund to conduct a survey to better assess the needs of the design industry here in Northern Ireland.  The resulting report ‘Mapping the Design Industry in Northern Ireland’ can now be read through the link below

Mapping the Design Industry in Northern Ireland: a report for the Northern Ireland Design Alliance


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On the 25th March NIDA held the event, Designing Innovation. By inviting representatives of business, education and the public sector, the Northern Ireland Design Alliance aimed to facilitate the debate on how design and creative thinking can help grow our innovation culture.

The keynote speaker for the day, Lee Sankey, Design Director of Innovation and Customer Experience at Barclays Bank, argued that designers bring real value to business when they are allowed to implement their skills in all aspects of a company.  See Lee’s argument in full below.

For further information about this event and discussion of the issues surrounding it please see the blog post by Sara Graham, Head of Skills Academy, Northern Ireland for Creative & Cultural Skills here

In November, we were delighted to welcome Paul Davies to speak as part of our Anatomy of Design Series. Paul is a registered psychologist with the unique quirk of also being a qualified designer – creating the intriguing job title of design psychologist. Working in the design & advertising industry for over 17 years, Paul has applied behavioural research and psychological insights to projects that educate, persuade and entertain for the likes of the Arts & Humanities Research Council, The Design Council, Barclays, NHS and the Cabinet Office.

Here he discuses how design is made better through a knowledge of psychology.

Keep up to date with Paul and his work at Twitter: @thedesignpsych and

In September we were delighted to welcome Mike Reed to Belfast to speak as part of our Anatomy of Design series.  Mike Reed is a creative writer for brands.  From London to Sydney, cake to koalas, Mike’s work has connected people with ideas.

Working with some of the world’s most interesting agencies (The Brand Union, The Partners, Hat-Trick, Interbrand, Landor, Razorfish, SomeOne), Mike has gained a reputation for enthusiastic flair and wit.

Here, Mike discusses why language matters to design; how understanding the interplay of speaker and listener can help express the spirit of a brand; and how words give voice to ideas.

Filmed in the MAC in Belfast by @djlowry on 26th September 2013


In June we were delighted to welcome Matt Coyne to Belfast to speak as part of our Anatomy of Design series.  Matt is a Visual and Interaction Designer working on large scale visual language systems and frameworks.

Matt previously worked for the BBC, on their first Global Visual Language (now known as GEL) and has since helped with its evolution. As lead designer at YouView he helped create and steer the new IPTV platform from inception to launch and more recently he has just started working with Sky.

In this, Matt’s first ever public talk, he discusses the processes involved in creating, managing and implementing design systems in complex products and large organisations; covering mistakes made and how good design makes everything look easy.

Filmed in the Ulster Hall in Belfast by @djlowry on 20th June 2013.